On the list…

Every now and again [well, almost every day to be honest] we come across reviews or suggestions for places to visit – so an ever expanding aspirational list. We hope to get round these before we well, you know, stop… Hopefully some of these will make the final cut.

England and Scotland…

  • The Bell Inn, Langford, Giles Coren amazingly finds his way out of London…and gives the place 10, 10, 10, 10. “Value that is beyond stonking…” He does have a way with words, doesn’t he? Still in the deep south though, even if not London.
  • Cecconi’s, Mayfair, as seen on the Land Rover ad. No idea whether it’s good but it’s Italian and they can’t do too much wrong, can they?
  • Cottage in the Wood, Lake District, a small but wonderful looking little B&B – or perhaps nearly a restaurant with rooms. Or Boutique Lake District Hotel they call it. Whatever, it’s on the list…website makes it look very inviting. ‘Stunning views, local Herdwick hogget, bold cooking – it’s almost enough to make a man take up hill walking’ Jay Rayner.
  • le Cochon Aveugle, York. Occupying the space left by Michael O’Hare when he “went big” in Leeds, this tasting-menu only promises much. Can’t wait…M O’L has been, of course “Everything makes us grin like ejects”. Yes, we’ve been – and see the Great British Menu, May 2017
  • NEW The Clachan Inn, Castle Douglas. Featured by Giles C on his only trip out of London since 1832. We have friends here, so…
  • Inver, Strathlachlan, Argyll and Bute. Marina O’Loughlin “So go. Go by car or boat or bloody helicopter”…and “In a burger-obsessed west of Scotland, Inver is the ultimate outlier.” So, we know where it is, and we’re not exactly passing but…
  • Kiosk Café, Sherwood, Nottingham, a converted shipping container with rave reviews. It’s not Sat Bains but different.
  • Kitty Fisher’s, Mayfair, London, subject of the Giles Coren review in today’s Times [not online again…]. Best steak of his life. Must be worth a go…although Marina O’Loughlin in the Guardian wasn’t so impressed. Too much like the Bullingdon Club – “The whole thing feels like some posho’s house party I’m not invited to”
  • Lake Road Kitchen, Ambleside. Food of the North. Sent to save us from those over precious starred Cumbrian rivals with fancy French sounding names. “A meal without a single missed beat” M O’L.
  • Marianne Restaurant, Notting Hill, London, a chef who left architecture to open the restaurant. Let’s hope she’s as successful as the ex-architecture Pink Floyd…when you’re tired of the Ledbury this could be it. We’ve been. Discrete, and the most expensive meal we’ve ever had. Good though. Great maybe…CLOSED FOREVER. Got bored? Couldn’t make money at even £500/couple?
  • NEW Mr Pook’s Kitchen, Castle Douglas. See comments under The Clachan Inn. Definitely on the list.
  • Mr Underhill’s, Ludlow. A bit like that little place in Cheltenham, this one has been on the list for ages. Alas, it’s closed for refurbishment [he a shoulder, she a hip]. But if it ever opens again… CLOSED FOREVER!
  • Piebald Inn, Hunmanby, the best pies in the world. It may not have the elegance of the Holborn Dining Rooms in London [so?…ed] but has the measure of their pies. The Guardian 2018 – “Life of pie: five places of pie pilgrimage around the UK. This Yorkshire pub serves more than 50 types of pies, including its braised lamb Welsh Cob, once described as “the perfect pie” by chef Tom Kerridge.” And a great name…geddit??
  • Portland Restaurant, London, recommended by Giles Coren as a perfect restaurant, although not the perfect restaurant. Next time we’re in town at a loose end…
  • The Man Behind the Curtain, in Leeds. New Michelin star “A unique, very individually styled restaurant with a minimalist interior and bold graffiti artwork, set on the top floor of a privately owned fashion store. Accomplished, highly skilled cooking uses very original, creative combinations – and the artful presentation is equally striking.” We should have gone ages ago…when we could get in without a year’s notice…
  • The Sugar Boat, Helensburgh, opened by Will Smith, formerly of Mayfair’s Wild Honey and Soho’s Arbutus. Be there or be square!…[it’s on the Square stupid…ed]. “Ecclefechan tart, clotted cream” – how could we not? [It’s a pud, BTW].
  • Van Zeller’s, Harrogate. We’ve walked past it so many times as it’s just around the corner from the Drum & Monkey. Trouble is, we always get stuck at the D&M… Naturally, Marina has been. Sunday Times Top 100. Alas, we walked past too many times without going in – it’s closed forever, a casualty of Harrogate’s booming cheap/not so cheap chain restaurants – shame on you Harrogate Council.
  • Vennell’s, Masham, recommended by Francis Atkins – how is it so local and we haven’t been..! 10 years!
  • West Park Hotel, Harrogate, the newest venture from Provenance Inns. After a very disappointing stay at the Hotel du Vin [can it really be that hard to have orange juice at breakfast, and the black paint everywhere was never a good idea in the first place], this could be the place.
  • NEW The Yan, Grasmere. First entry from Grace Dent. Her style is, well, she’s not MoL for us. She likes this one though “Everyone is eating heartily and shuts up”. As long as they’re not on their iPhones… Also an hotel [note the ‘an’ – proper English…Ed]. The food looks, well, OKish.

Belgium…[we know, we know]

  • Huis Koning, the big attraction here is an intimate breakfast terrace over the canal that runs along the house – also the perfect spot for a sunset aperitif. Book well in advance – say a year.
  • The Herring’s Residence, a v smart B&B in Bruges – next city break in the offing. The “stay” part of the Michelin restaurant, the Herrings. Breakfast could be special…unlike H***eck Gh**l.


  • Enigma, Barcelona. Well it featured in the architectural magazines but…3.5 hours, no “kids” and no vegans. And no prices. And no menu. You can have all that in Leeds! And there’s probably a huge waiting list, so maybe not?


  • L’ambroisie, a 3* Michelin restaurant in the Place des Vosges, Paris. See ElizabethOnFood. No tasting menu – Hurrah! And Paris’ longest running 3* restaurant. So discreet…
  • L’Auberge de L’ill, a 3* Michelin restaurant on the eastern edge of the Parc Naturelle des Ballons des Vosges, near the border with Germany. Great reports from friends. Breakfast whilst being rowed up the river anyone?
  • Les 3 Chambres, a B&B with style. Vibrant colours, family antiques and atmosphere. And cheaper than Place des Vosges for us pensioners…


  • Ahilya by the Sea, India is next on our major tour stop [after Vietnam and Cambodia obvs] and we’re thinking Kerala. However, this little area – Goa – could  just feature with promising stops such as this. The website is a bit energetic – hope the place isn’t. As far as we know, Marina hasn’t been yet…
  • Elsewhere, a “secret” boutique hotel that’s difficult to find – “Our location is a bit of a secret. This is purely to protect the privacy of our resident guests.” Need a better map we think. Anyway, visitors generally rave about the “tents” and lot and lots of famous people go there [maybe not for us?..ed]. Looks a bit too tranquil?


  • Sweets Hotel Amsterdam. A collection of converted bridge-controllers houses. Really. Room for two. The most interesting, and therefore the most expensive, is Amstelschutsluis. You get your own boatman [aka sailing doorman] for trips back and forth, and deliveries of breakfast.


  • Antica Osteria Del Mirasole, San Giovanni in Persiceto. Never mind Osteria Francescana, eat where Massimo Bottura eats.
  • Cima Rosa, Venezia, a small boutique B&B in a C15th Palazzo. Gracious is the word.
  • Il Giardino di Ballarò, Classy but quirky. It has roaring fires…in Palermo. Surely we want sunshine…? Still, it will make a change from the heatwave in Yorkshire.
  • Il Salviatino, seems a quite nice hotel in Fiesole, overlooking Firenze. Maybe a touch smart…but it’s where the chefs eat.
  • La Pergola, Rome, 3* restaurant with “incredible city panorama, this is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world” …and the food? We’ll have to find out. Oh, and on wines “Like the Rome Cavalieri’s art collection Marco Reitano’s Italian list showcases some of the finest creativity in the country. It is so comprehensive there are no less than 34 wines from eminent Gaja Barbaresco as well as a virtual chapter on Brunello. Prepare to be stunned.
  • Masseria Il Frantoio, a great little place to stay in Puglia. Sawday’s winner in the “Slow Food” category. Heaven.
  • Osteria Francescana, Modena, handy for the Ferrari factory but where is there to stay? More research needed. Home of the famous “splatted” pudding. 12 tables and No 1 in the World’s Top 50 restaurants…promotion from 3rd 2nd.
  • NEW Osteria Alle Testiere, Venezia. Chosen by Angela Hartnett. Daily fish market menu – they only decide what to cook an hour beforehand. Book well in advance – it’s only small.
  • Palazzo Volpi, Venezia,”three gorgeous suites…16th century palazzo” Got to be worth a try…
  • NEW Terra – the magic place… hotel in the Dolomites with 2* restaurant and lots of walks to work up that appetite. 2022 perhaps?
  • Torre di Moravola, Perugia, one for the architectural geeks. Slick, modern yet ancient. Is it too posh for us? Are we ready for the cocktail competitions? No, but could be worth a try if we maintain an aloof air of mystery…


  • Cocoa Island, Maldives. It can’t be real and, although we’re useless at sitting and relaxing, this could tempt us. Swimming, snorkelling anyone? “Don’t come here to be entertained, as there is nothing at all to do…”


  • Bror, København, Denmark. It’s not quite Noma [even with a 4 letter name…] but there’s a local Northern builder connection with one of the owners, Sam Nutter. Very interesting food – Herring Liver, Turnip; Cod Cheek, Horseradish, Dill; Bull Balls, Tartare Sauce; Cod Cheek, Salsify, Squid Ink. Judge for yourselves!
  • NEW Vipp lakeside cabins. The Vipp shelter is “part Vipp showroom and part luxury bolthole. Must be free then? Alas, from £534/night [as of writing] with no bar, no restaurant. It’s got a pier though… “We don’t offer wakeup calls, but birdsong is free of charge”. At least something is.

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